Algeria Gets Active

Protests in the capital city of Algiers were stifled by riot police on Saturday, but the unrest continued through the weekend:

The Associated Press agency reported that hundreds of demonstrators have clashed with police in the eastern Algerian city of Annaba on Sunday, as the opposition announced another major anti-government rally next weekend. ...

Elias Filali, an Algerian blogger and activist, said Ali Yahia Abdennour, a senior figure and human right activist,  'we should continue protesting every Saturday in the same square, we will gather momentum as we progress we want our dignity back, yesterday the police has brutally beaten many protesters amongst them a pregnant women, old ladies, a journalist, young men and women, we should carry on protesting until we get our rights, "he said.

Andrew Lebovich provides some background on the situation there:

Algeria witnessed a massive wave of protests in early January that spread to 20 of the country’s 48 wilayas (provinces) and continues to see successful or attempted self-immolation from disaffected men in the capital Algiers and elsewhere. While the ostensible cause for the protests was a hike in the price of basic staples, such as sugar and cooking oil, the anger unleashed by the protests, albeit briefly, and the subsequent movements of both Algeria's government and its opposition groups indicate a much deeper anger over the country's political and social condition.

In response to the earlier violence and demands of civil society groups, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has been in power since 1999 and amended the constitution in 2009 to be able to run for a third term, announced last week that he would lift "in the very near future" the state of emergency that has governed Algeria since 1992, when the military canceled free elections and a brutal civil war broke out. Bouteflika also promised moves to lower the prices of staple goods and provide government help in housing and job creation.

These half-measures changed little; opposition groups calling for major protests on Feb. 12 were unmoved, demanding the actual end to the state of emergency and greater press freedoms, if not the outright removal of Bouteflika from office.

Lebovich also compares and contrasts Algeria with Egypt and Tunisia.